Experience the magic of the holidays in Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley. From November to January, the region celebrates the season! Discover the magnificent du Pont mansions decorated for the holidays, fantastic outdoor lighting displays and glorious indoor gardens. Enjoy fine dining experiences and fabulous performances and don't miss Greater Wilmington's wonderful tax-free shopping opportunities. Be here when Santa Claus arrives in a whirlybird at the American Helicopter Museum
or take a ride with Santa aboard the Wilmington & Western Railroad
, one of the country's oldest steam-powered locomotives. There's lots to do and if you need help planning a visit, call the Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 489-6664 or check www.VisitWilmingtonDE.com
One of Wilmington's most unique yuletide events is the Sankta Lucia celebration on December 9 in Old Swedes Church, originally built in 1698. This moving celebration combines two traditions-the pagan ritual of worshipping the Sun God at Midwinter and the Christian Christmas. Lucia walks down the church aisle with candlelight in her hair on the darkest morning of the year. Afterwards, guests are invited to tour the Hendrickson House Museum which is decorated for a Swedish Christmas.
The area is steeped in history as a visit to Historic New Castle or the Historic Houses of Odessa quickly attests. Located a few minutes south of the city of Wilmington, Historic New Castle, Delaware's Williamsburg, has traditionally hosted the Spirit of Christmas on the second Saturday in December for many, many years. On December 8, many of the private homes and museums in this three hundred year old town will open their doors to the public. They will be decorated for a colonial Christmas complete with music, carolers, carriage rides, tree lighting and Santa Claus strolling down a cobblestone path. The magic continues later in the evening when the Read House, Amstel House and the Dutch House offer candlelight tours.
A little further south is the small residential community of Odessa. Throughout the year, five of the town's most unique properties, known collectively as the Historic Houses of Odessa and operated by the Historic Odessa Foundation, offer a unique and well-documented picture of 18th- and 19th-century lifestyles. What distinguishes these houses is the accuracy of their period rooms and furnishings, many of which were crafted by prominent Delaware cabinet makers, silversmiths and artists. Beginning November 14th thru December 30, the Historic Houses of Odessa will be decorated around a storybook theme and this year's theme is Washington Irving. Candle light tours, offered every Friday evening in December, add to the magic.
The Greater Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau is a non-profit organization founded in 1978, chartered by the Governor of Delaware, the New Castle County Executive and the Mayor of Wilmington. Its mission is to serve as the community's customer-focused destination marketing organization, generating economic growth through leisure travel and meetings development by aggressively marketing attractions, facilities, amenities and services for visitors.